Friday, December 4, 2015


By Katie G.

You might see it in your juices and you might see it in your skincare products. You might even see it in your teeth whiteners. As of late, activated charcoal seems to be everywhere. Its gritty texture gives juices a tint of blackish-grey and turns skin coal-black when used as a face mask. You might wonder how something that looks so off-putting can be good for you. But, after doing some research (and much first-hand trial), it turns out that activated charcoal is less of something that's a passing fad and more of something that has real long-term health and beauty benefits. So, how does it actually work?

Despite its name, activated charcoal is not something that you scrape off the grill. It's a medical grade substance that most hospitals use as an emergency treatment for poisoning. It's more porous than regular charcoal. Meaning, that when you consume it, and it passes through your system, toxins bind to it and eventually exit the body. It works in a similar way when applied to the skin – sucking out impurities, dirt, dead skin, and oil as it dries. 

Mind blown.

The benefits from charcoal range from digestive health (minimized gas, bloating, and indigestion), eliminating known toxins (bye bye alcohol), and relieving skin inflammation (acne, bug bites, etc.).

There are several ways to add activated charcoal to your lifestyle. The best way to find out how it best works for you is to try it out yourself in different amounts (and in different ways) to see how it affects your body. Here are some of the most popular – and my preferred – ways to use it:

1. As a Supplement: 
Probably the easiest way to consume activated charcoal, you can find any number of dietary supplements that have it in a very concentrated form. Taken 2-3 times daily, before or after meals, these little pills are purported to help relieve bloating and gas and aid digestion. Just don't take them at the same time as any other medications or supplements because it will block absorption.

2. In Your Juice:
This is my favorite way, by far, to consume activated charcoal. Currently, Juice Generation has added activated charcoal to 3 of their cold-pressed juices and they are all surprisingly delicious. Grey-black in color and a little chalky in texture, these juices aid in both digestion and skin health. And, since the amount of charcoal is decidedly less concentrated than the supplement, it's safe to drink these juices several times a week. 

3. On Your Skin:
In addition to drinking your way to better skin, you can also utilize activated charcoal as a DIY face mask. One of my favorites is actually from New York City-based Shea'Wa - this powder-based mask blends charcoal, algae, and bentonite clay to detox skin and give it such a beautiful glow. Since it's drying, I use it about once a week. Also, a quick note: have your cleaning lady on speed dial because the powder is super-messy.

Happy Charcoaling!

No matter how you use or try activated charcoal, remember to keep an open mind. Not everything is going to be a cure-all. But, as always, try it, have fun, and find us on Facebook to let us know what you think.

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